Why are dental offices a concern?
Dental offices and labs are essential to good dental health for patients, but dental workers may be exposed to several potentially hazardous chemicals in their work. Dental office and lab workers may be exposed to beryllium, which is used to make crowns, bridges, and partial dentures. Beryllium is listed as a human carcinogen in the Twelfth Report on Carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program. Dental workers may face potential reproductive health risks from exposure to heavy metals, organic solvents, sterilizing substances, and anesthetic gases. They may develop respiratory diseases after long-term exposure to dental drills made of cobalt, a hard metal. Dental workers may also be exposed to phthalates, which are used to make plastic medical devices; formaldehyde-resin adhesives; glues; and coatings. If dental workers use latex gloves, they may develop latex allergies or occupational asthma.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has concluded that there is no evidence to show that amalgam fillings that contain mercury cause harm to patients. However, dentists and dental workers should handle amalgam materials with care.
This description is based on the information found in the Web links listed with this topic.
Web Links from MedlinePlus (National Library of Medicine)
Occupational Health for Healthcare Providers
Best Management Practices for Amalgam Waste (American Dental Association) (PDF — 270 KB)
Dental Assistants. Haz-Map (National Library of Medicine)
Dental Hygienists. Haz-Map (National Library of Medicine)
Dental Laboratory Technicians. Haz-Map (National Library of Medicine)
Dental Unit Waterlines (American Dental Association)
Dental X-Ray. RadTown USA (Environmental Protection Agency)
Dentistry (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)
Dentistry (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
Dentists. Haz-Map (National Library of Medicine)
Mercury in Health Care (World Health Organization) (PDF — 32.69 KB)
Chemicals in Dental Offices
Are these chemicals in MY community?
Bisphenol A (BPA)
Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Last Updated: April 30, 2013